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Western Media Coverage on the Middle East: Seymour Hersh April 5, 2007

Posted by Muhammad in ajforum07, Al Jazeera, Media Forum.
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Disclaimer: Please note the below are not the exact words, but are paraphrased and the main points the speaker wanted to make are made clear.

Q: In terms of how the Western Media covers the Middle-East, is it honest?

A: No! Ofcourse it isn’t.

Q: How do we get rid of this huge discrepancy between Western and Eastern Media?

A: It won’t happen any time soon, you are always going to have the racism, misguided information, sexism and xenophobia present in the media and the government isn’t going to budge.  It’s the way the world is, this is our reality.  We can’t expect a miracle to happen and the West and East will suddenly understand each other, you’re talking about a Havana which won’t come in our lifetime.

Although we are seeing some progress, for the first time Americans are coming to terms with waht’s happening in the Middle East and Iraq and we can see the results in the polls.  Another move toward progress will be to see al Jazeera inthe United States, this will come eventually, it will take time, but it will break through.

Q: From reading your reports, most of the sources you cite are American sources, does this not taint the stories you report on the Middle East?

A: I do deal with people in the countries on which I report, but most of the time it is hard to get their names or find out who they are.  Abu Ghraib, for example, is only the tip of a very big problem in Iraq.  What I report on the situation is from sources in the Middle East and even though I get published in the States, my work gets read more in the Middle East than it does in the United States.  People in the Middle East trust me with information because they know I can take it and make it better.  But, you’re right, un-named officials are a harder sell then sources that are willing to come on record and another aspect is the fact htat I am inclined to use American sources because that is where I am based.

Q (by Ethan Zuckerman from Global Voices): In light of the current situation of bloggers in Egypt and the arrest of Karim Suleman, will we see Journalists becoming advocates of the rights of citizen journalists and independant media on the net?

A: Once again, it’s the point of journalists being bitchy to each other.  If you assume a journalist will recognise another journalist who does exactly what he does, but better.  Egyptian bloggers are doing a good job of questioning their government.  Blogging is messy, but it will take tiem to get recognition.  It’s new and it’s good at heart.

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